Inmate Turns Egyptologist Through Study of Hieroglyphs (and BAR)

Bible and archaeology news

Timothy Fenstermacher, an inmate at Tehachapi State Prison, surprised Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) editors in 2010 with an insightful response regarding the distribution of the so-called “Sinai hieroglyph” referenced in Orly Goldwasser’s article “How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs.”* Sent to prison following a felony assault in 1996, Fenstermacher has devoted his sentence to the acquisition of scholarly materials and a concentrated study of Egyptology. He informed BAR that he has “spent the abundance of the time I’ve been given to explore one of my loves: Egypt.”

After getting access to dictionaries of ancient Egyptian, Fenstermacher “made hundreds (literally) of flash cards out of my 8-oz milk carton in the morning.” Slowly increasing his knowledge through extensive reading and contact with scholars, Fenstermacher has developed a firm command of the subject, and recently sent friends and family his elegant new translation of the 14th-century B.C.E. “Hymn to Amen and Aten.”

He is due to be released in 2013, and his plans range from driving a truck to writing a book, “perhaps about the biological diversity of the Nile, or paintings from tombs.” In any case, Fenstermacher knows that he would love the opportunity to receive a formal education in Egyptology.

Timothy Fenstermacher

Sent to prison following a felony assault in 1996, Fenstermacher has devoted his sentence to the acquisition of scholarly materials and a concentrated study of Egyptology.

 

Read more about Timothy Fenstermacher’s scholarly prison experience.

* See Queries & Comments, “How Rare Is the Sinai Hieroglyph?” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2010; and Orly Goldwasser, “How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2010.

For additional letters from Fenstermacher, see Queries and Comments, “Temple Mount Revolt Coins,” Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 2011.

Queries & Comments, “Food for Vultures,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2012.

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